merits of this discussion

Charles Brown cbrown at
Wed Nov 12 15:56:38 MST 2003

From: "David Schanoes" 

As others can attest, I don't take kindly to accusations of bad faith.

CB: Well, David, to be more direct, I don't think we take kindly to being
lumped with reactionary Mathusians. You might want to drop that refrain.
It's sort of accusing _us_ of bad faith , or being too stupid to see that we
aren't any different than they are.


If you think the passage you reproduced is an example of Marx's speculation
on population overgrowth of natural carrying capacity of the earth, then
you've read something into it that simply doesn't exist. 

CB: No, not  overgrowth of the natural carrying capacity of the whole earth,
just the carrying capacity of the ecosystem of various early forms of
society. The general point being that if there was an  overgrowth of the
natural carrying capacity of the earth, Marx wouldn't be averse to
considering its causal effects on human social conduct, change, whatever.


This passage clearly shows the advance Marx has initiated in analyzing the
real history of humans, the history of the species-being, the history of its
social labor. I think the critical content of this section is the
development of this notion of historical, social labor, the organization of
which exists "independently of the existence of any political or religious
nonsense whcih in addition may hold men together."

CB: Right independent of politics and religion, but not independent of the
material , biological underpinnings of human material life.


Clearly, at least to me, Marx sets out a methodology that requires
examination of the social, historical, development and function of any
ideological inquiry into the "natural limits" to human, collective, economic

CB: I don't understand Lou , et al. , to be making an "ideological" inquiry
into natural limits ( no quotes) but a _natural_ inquiry into natural limits
to a specific,historical technological regime , which has fossil fuels as an
arch-strategic raw material. 


How you get from that passage to speculations about population growth is
your business, but it sure isn't Marx's.

CB: You better read it again.  Population growth creates new needs, etc.


I don't know of any population control analysis that doesn't locate the
problems outside the specific economic configuration and into some natural
load limit, some moral restriction, some sort of "ethnic cleansing" on an
individual or group level, regarding who gets to reproduce and who doesn't. 

CB: Your insulting us is to imply that we ( Lou ,et al.) don't have one,
i.e. an analysis of that isn't a moral restriction or ethnic cleansing.  


Oh some of the ideologists won't say it, at least not out loud and not now,
but have a couple of drinks with professional sociobiologists, or genetic
intelligence advocates (ex-father in law was of that sort, and once Eysenck
and Burt were exposed as frauds, he, to his credit, did an about face) and
they all get down to the old in and out, who should be allowed to be
fruitful and multiply.
My position is what I have explained it to be. It does not need rephrasing
from the specific to the universal in order to make it appear less directed.
Population control advocates are historically united with ruling forces, and
their theories are pseudo science which gains currency during moments of
economic distress. That is the real history. You can read all about it, but
not in the German Ideology.

CB: I don't know about "population control" but the passage I copied from
The German Ideology clearly relies on population growth as a causal factor
in changes in society. 


Birth control, as a voluntary measure is something different from enforced
sterilization. Population control practics have almost always included
forced sterilization, and that mostly of women, poor women. 
Yes, that is reactionary, and oppressive. China does that? 
Reactionary. India does that? Reactionary. Does that surprise you--

CB: No, it doesn't surprise me that you think that. I was just curious. It
strikes me as stupid, since the consequences of uncontrolled population
growth would be mass starvation etc.


 when China sells organs and procedures for transplants, stripping assets
from the practice of medicine for the general population is that
reactionary? Sure is. And of equal importance, when China does that it is
doing it simply based on economic, social carrying capacity, not natural.
Why anyone claiming to be a radical would think it is anything BUT
reactionary is mystery to me.

CB: So you don't care about people starving ?


My claim about the communist development bandwagon was in reference to the
ongoing debate on this list about the impacts of economic development. Why
you, in bad faith, would make a false issue of that, rather than respond to
the fact that economic development limits rates of population growth is
another mystery to me.


CB: We're on the communist development bandwagon already is the point.

You're in a mystery because you don't acknowledge the ways in which Lou and
others have distinguished their positions from those of reactionaries.  It's
a mystery you seem to want to be in.


If you think that you are "beyond history,": and can objectively evaluate
impacts of population on total, not just available, resources, then you are
deluding yourself. It's just that simple.
And I mean that in all good faith.


CB: You have to explain why what I say implies my being beyond history.  As
far as total resources, the hypothesis at issue is a claim that we are on
the verge of exhausting total fossil fuel resources.  Marxists would, in
theory , be very concerned about that.

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